Day 212: July 31, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Matthew 27:31-34
31 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.32 As they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon. They forced this man to carry His cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place), 34 they gave Him wine mixed with gall to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink it.

Mark 15:20-23
20 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the purple robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’ cross. He was Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 And they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place). 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it.

Luke 23:26-33a
26 As they led Him away, they seized Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, and laid the cross on him to carry behind Jesus. 27 A large crowd of people followed Him, including women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But turning to them, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. 29 Look, the days are coming when they will say, ‘The women without children, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed, are fortunate!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others —criminals —were also led away to be executed with Him. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there...

John 19:16b-17
16 ...he handed Him over to be crucified. 17 Carrying His own cross, He went out to what is called Skull Place, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’ cross. He was Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus.
—Mark 15:21

Change of Plans
by John Trainer,

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. I’ve started the coffee, I’ve finished the morning devotion, and I’ve actually read a little more in my Bible than I usually do. The house is quiet and my morning is going as planned, and I’ve even had time to plan the rest of the day.

I’m going to go for a run after a couple of cups of coffee, do a little cleaning up in the garage, cut the yard, finish up that last 10% of a home project that’s a little overdue, then grill some steaks for a good family dinner. It’s going to be a great day!

However, before I finish that first cup, the house starts to wake up. My wife comes downstairs, gets her first cup of coffee, and starts planning “our” day.

She says she wants us to run a few errands. Then we need to run by her parents to pick up something. Then she needs my help to clean the house because we have friends coming over tomorrow after church. Well, at least I still have some of the afternoon and the family dinner still sounds good to go.

Just before we leave, my son stumbles into the kitchen and announces his plans to meet friends at the fair this afternoon. He’ll need a ride there and back—and by the way, he’s volunteered me to pick up three other friends. There goes the rest of the afternoon, but I tell him he needs to be home for our family dinner. He sleepily nods OK as the wife and I head out.

A text sometime around noon from the daughter states she’s going with her friends tonight to her favorite sushi restaurant. “Best laid plans....”

Have you had a day like this? Maybe not to this extreme (because I did go a little overboard with the illustration). We’ve all had situations that have changed our plans, our goals, and our lives. Little things happen each day, but big things can happen too.

In Exodus 3, Moses happened upon a burning bush that greatly changed his life. David was just carrying lunch to his brothers when he heard the taunts from the giant named Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. I’m sure a band of fisherman never thought they’d drop their nets, leave their boats and families, give up their careers, and follow the Son of God. However, in Matthew 4, we see Peter, Andrew, John, and James do just that. A blinding light and a piercing voice in Acts 9 threw Saul into a tailspin that had him changing teams and preaching instead of persecuting.

That brings us to a man named Simon from Cyrene, who woke up one morning and also planned his day. He probably decided to head into Jerusalem to pick up some groceries, run a few errands, and possibly run into the synagogue for prayers. As he got to town, he noticed a crowd gathering down the street. They were straining to get a look at something. It must be good because the crowd was thick. 

So Simon ran up a few blocks, cut back in towards the crowded street, and squeezed through. He got a good view. It was a band of Roman soldiers leading a man up the street. He was struggling hard under the weight of the wooden cross He was carrying. Simon could tell he’d been beaten badly, and was most likely being taken to The Place of the Skull, Golgotha, to be nailed to the cross He was carrying.

As the group approached Simon’s position, the prisoner stumbled and fell. Within five seconds after the man hit the ground, Simon felt two large, strong hands grab and pull him from the crowd, and push him towards the prisoner and His cross. “Carry the cross!” demanded one of the soldiers. There went Simon’s plans for the rest of the day.

How many days have you had where your plans changed and you were asked to pick up someone’s cross?

It might be as simple as inviting a friend over to talk when you heard they’d just lost a family member. It might be dropping your plans of cleaning up the garage and cutting the yard to run errands with your spouse. It might have been when a stranger stopped you on the street to ask for directions.

To Simon of Cyrene, Jesus was just a stranger. But if history tells us anything, our lives just might be changed forever. If God’s Word tells us anything, our eternal lives will definitely be changed forever.

So the next time someone or something changes your plans, how will you react? Will you drop what you’re doing and pick up the cross? If you do, you just might be in for the ride of your life—and eternity!

Reflection Questions

  1. How do you think this incident affected Simon at that moment and for the rest of his life?
  2. Can you relate to Simon and his particular situation? Somewhere in your past, have you had to pick up someone’s cross and carry it for them? If so, what were your emotions and feelings like during and after?
  3. What a different life Peter, Andrew, John, and James led after that day a man named Jesus made them “fishers of men.” How ready and willing are you to drop everything (or at least something) and follow Jesus?
  4. I read somewhere that Mother Teresa was quoted as saying, “Each person you meet is Jesus in disguise.” Could God be testing us by putting needy people in our path? Is it your neighbor, a stranger in a store, or a family member in need?
  5. Whose cross will you pick up today? For the next seven days, find someone or a situation each day to do just that. Try to make it a habit.

About the Author

John Trainer

John and Donna started attending Brentwood Baptist in 1997. His family broke away in 2000 for a couple of years to help start up Life Community Church. In years past, John enjoyed serving with the children's choir. He's also been a part of the men's small group ministry for almost a decade and currently leads a group. He also volunteers in the media ministry. John enjoys working around the house and yard, and he's a huge fan of both the UT Volunteers and the St. Louis Cardinals. He's been married to Donna for 23 years and they have two children, Hannah and Matthew.